Resentment / Bitterness /Hatred Resentment that is allowed to grow in the mind turns to bitterness. Bitterness when fostered becomes hatred. They are degrees of the same attitude – an attitude of rejection, antagonism, anger and hostility. Our attack against the hated person may be by physical violence, by verbal abuse, by hateful thought or even by day-dream. Whatever the method of attack, every part of the body is stirred up and prepared for action. As in fear so also in anger, certain bodily changes take place. The pupils of the eyes dilate; hearing becomes more acute; muscles become tense; the heart beats faster; blood pressure rises; digestion slows down and nerves become more sensitive. All this is the body preparing itself for action. This occurs even if we just entertain resentful thoughts.
If we have hateful thoughts then we are hateful people – physically, mentally and spiritually hateful. Resentment, bitterness and hatred interfere with the normal functioning of our bodies. That is why Proverbs 15:17 (NKJV) says: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” Or as another translates it: “Better a dish of vegetables with love, than the best beef served with hatred.”
The old Levitical law forbad hatred: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Lev. 19:17). But our Lord Jesus Christ took the positive approach: “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). “Hard to do,” we may say. No doubt, but it is actually harder on the digestive system to hate than to love.
It is impossible to love God – that is, to have a sense of oneness with God – and to hate our brother at the same time (1 Jn. 4:20). As we open our hearts to the joy of oneness with God, we lose all our resentment, our bitterness and our hatred of others. Surely that makes for peace of mind and for mental health.
Shame / Inferiority/ Withdrawal
Who of us has never had our feelings hurt? At times we have all felt slighted, left out, ignored, or have felt that our worth or position has not been sufficiently recognized. Hurt feelings are really hurt pride, and pride is self-esteem or self-love. If for some real or imagined reason our self-esteem has been injured we feel shame and a sense of inferiority.
Injured pride may produce anger and resentment. In many people, however, it produces shame. It is natural to protect ourselves from being shamed. Indeed many people withdraw themselves from as many social contacts as possible for fear they will be shamed and made to feel inferior. Many people try to hide their feelings of inferiority. Their efforts to do so, however, only lead to introversion or withdrawal from reality into a dream world and eventually even into very harmful mental illness.
Early in the life of every human being there appears evidence of pride, comparison with others and rivalry. We have all heard children boast that “Mine is better than yours,” or “My daddy is the toughest man in town,” or “I’m bigger than you are,” or “Our house is nicer than yours.” These boasts may sound cute, but they are evidence of pride and they carry with them the making of hurt feelings, feelings of inferiority and withdrawal.
We read in Proverbs 16:18 that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And again in Proverbs 11:2 we are told, “When pride comes, then comes shame.” Our Lord Jesus Christ has said in Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled.” Proverbs 21:4 makes it plain that pride is sinful: “A haughty look, and a proud heart … are sin.” James 4:6 very clearly states that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
And let us not forget what Jeremiah says: “‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord” (9:23-24).
There are people who try to cure feelings of inferiority in others by attempting to build up their self-esteem, telling them that they are just as good as others and that there are lots of people worse than they are. But the cure for inferiority feelings is not to try to build up people’s pride, but to assure them that their humility is pleasing to God. Jesus calls us to be humble. He says in Matthew 20:27, “Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.”
Humility rules out hidden inferiority feelings and is necessary for a feeling of oneness with God. In humility there is no pride in self, no easily hurt feelings, and no withdrawals from reality to protect one’s feelings. In Matthew 11:29 we read “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” that is, peace of mind. This is true mental health.
By H. R. Brillinger, MD
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org